Though she saw it as a little kid, she thought bartending was super cool. All throughout college, she worked behind the bar, in pubs and nightclubs, and when it came time to graduate, she didn’t want to walk away from the industry.
Nicole currently tends bar at Panorama Room on Roosevelt Island. Here’s what she had to say about her life behind bars.
What inspired you to become a bartender?
Honestly it was the movie Cocktail, though I saw it as a little kid, I just thought bartending was so cool. I worked behind a bar, in pubs and nightclubs, all through college and upon graduating, I didn’t feel the need to walk away from the industry to make half what we were earning at the time, plus having fun.
Where do you tend bar now? What makes it unique?
Panorama Room and I also do a lot of virtual Cocktail hours for corporate events and some private. Panorama Room is located on Roosevelt Island, where no one ever ventured to really as a destination for cocktails. They may come for the view, but they definitely stay for the cocktails. The virtual forum took off in the last two years for obvious reasons and it saved me when I had no bar to work in, serving guests in person, I could walk my guests through creating cocktails from the other side of my computer in my home. I absolutely love it!
Who has been most influential in your development as a bartender?
My husband, Mason Salicetti, has been my biggest inspiration and influence. He has so much passion for the craft and is so talented, watching him meticulously craft a cocktail of his own creation gives me a fresh love for what we do every time I watch him. He never stops striving for anything short of perfection so how could I give any less.
Do you have any advice for novice/ at home bartenders?
Learn all the basics of EVERY aspect of the job. It’s not just about recipes and making drinks, it’s hospitality, teamwork and understanding how the bar operates. Memorizing all the classic cocktails is a great but always be humble and look to work with people who are more knowledgeable than you. And there always will be.
What is your favorite ingredient right now and why?
Salt solution. It’s just so important in so many drinks that many people don’t realize would work better with a little salt. It may just be my all-time favorite ingredient.
How do you go about creating a cocktail? Is there a specific process or simply a moment of inspiration?
I usually sip on the base spirit and wait for any of its particular notes to inspire me and work from there.
Do you have a special technique you use or a tip for making a particular drink?
Again, the salt. Try it in small doses and see if it doesn’t surprise you in certain cocktails you didn’t realize could be made better with a pinch.
Where do you see the bartending/cocktail culture headed?
I think many non-industry people are taking notice that bartending can absolutely be a serious craft that requires talent, skill, and really hard work to advance within the industry. I feel and hope that will lead to more of us being able to get the same benefits 9 to 5ers get, like vacation and sick days and health insurance as the norm not the exception.
The Tangy Gila Monster
- 1 ½ oz. Nikka gin
- ¾ oz. salted lime blueberry lavender oleo
- ¼ oz. yuzu
- 2 oz. soda with a lavender tea spritz
- Candied shiso leaf (for garnish)
Preparation: Shake all ingredients, less soda, spritz and garnish, and strain into highball over tall cube. Top with soda, spritz and place candied Shiso leaf on top.